Published on Saturday, June 30, 2018, 7:02 pm
Photo: Bloomberg Photo by Michael Nagle
KABUL, Afghanistan – President Ashraf Ghani said he ended a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday after dozens of Afghan forces were killed by riots last week  "The ceasefire is over," he told reporters in the presidential palace, saying he is giving the Afghan defense and security forces a fresh start for the first time since announcing an unprecedented unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban in early June.
But the president said the door to the talks would remain open and he asked the Taliban for a peace process. So far, the militant group has refused to speak with the Kabul government, discredit it as a "puppet" regime and demand direct talks with the United States.
Although the insurgent leaders rejected Ghani's invitation to extend the ceasefire after the end of June 17, the president said that the three-day mutual ceasefire had been "98 percent successful" and that the government was ready to expand it each time the "Taliban are ready."
The brief truce that coincided with the three-day Eid Holidays marking the end of Ramadan's fasting month was closely watched by both sides in the 17-year civil war and marked by a burst of emotional celebrations among civilians, Afghan forces and Taliban fighters.
The unanticipated success of the cease-fire, during which thousands of Taliban fighters flooded cities and towns and mingled peacefully with others, has raised high hopes for both Afghans and foreign officials who support the Ghani government Taliban m (19659015) The truce also strengthened a burgeoning peace movement among Afghans holding marches, rallies and vigils calling for an end to violence. During the truce, more than 100 peace marchers marched several hundred miles from the southern province of Helmand to Kabul.
Ghani immediately offered to extend the original truce, but the Taliban refused, and since then have said nothing publicly about the issue – instead, they have actively ramped up attacks in numerous provinces. According to Afghan media, insurgents intensified attacks on police and military posts, leaving almost 100 soldiers and police dead.
The government's ceasefire did not extend to the Islamic State, a Sunni Islamic militia stationed abroad, and other foreign terrorist groups operate in Afghanistan. During the ceasefire, the Islamic State stated that it had carried out two separate deadly attacks on Taliban, civilian, and Afghan forces gatherings in the eastern province of Nangahar.
A Defense Department spokesman said on Saturday that the ceasefire extension is over at midnight and that military operations are being conducted in ten provinces.
"We will continue our offensive against the elements that threaten our people," he said.